Tuesday, July 22, 2014

BL interviews #BLauthor9 Sarah Hulyk Maxwell

"prophet rejected," by addison
If you haven't checked out two new prose poems by Sarah Hulyk Maxwell yet, do that because in the upcoming interview, Sarah talks about the characters in those pieces, and shares how she disciplines herself to write regularly.

BL: Tell our readers a little more about the characters of Gingerine and DagoBerto from your prose poems. How many pieces have you written about them? What draws you to fleshing out characters in short prose/verse like that?

SHM: Gingerine and DagoBerto are both guilty pleasure characters. I say this mostly because I have so much fun writing about them and their always-imaginary, never-for-real love story. They are actually two parts of a triangle, a character named Anderson making up the third part, but he doesn't appear here. Roughly 20 poems make up their little saga as of right now, and while the manuscript they are contained in may gain muscle mass, I'm not sure Gingerine and DagoBerto will take part in more than these 20 or so pages. These poems are heavily influenced by Sabrina Orah Mark's Tsim Tsum and Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them, so their prose form is no surprise to me. For me, Gingerine gushes in containment. She is mostly emotion and memory, and living in her head. The block-like, prose form felt appropriate for those moments, tiny windows of text, where she is trying to tell you so much in so small a space that there is simply no time to break or breathe.

I also think the prose format allows me to dabble in various genres: these poems, in my mind anyway, exhibit characteristics of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Not only is there a narrative happening, but there is a kind of reflective CNF voice in there telling us the things that Gingerine learns (or refuses to learn) and their impact on her at various points. I like the choppiness that comes with fleshing out characters or a "story" via poems. It leaves a little room for the imagination, for you as a reader to envision Gingerine and DagoBerto outside of the poems, to imagine their back story, which is appropriate especially in this manuscript since so much of it rests inside Gingerine's own mind.

BL: What publication credit are you most proud of, and why?

SHM: I am grateful for all of the magazines (as I'm sure most writers are) that have accepted my work. It's truly a motivator to have someone say yes! after months of rejections. That being said, and without trying to sound like a suck-up, I was extremely excited for Blood Lotus to showcase Gingerine and DagoBerto. These poems make up my most current project, and it was a relief to think that someone besides me might be interested in reading them. (I'm also psyched about the piece forthcoming from The Bitter Oleander in the fall, mostly because I have submitted to them more than I have submitted to any other magazine, and they finally gave in.)

"stampede," by addison
BL: What lit mags are you into lately? What about writers--which ones are on your bedside table right now?

SHM: Right now I'm subscribed to 6x6 (Ugly Duckling Presse) and Conduit, which, actually, I think is about to expire, so thanks for the reminder. I'm really drawn to 6x6's showcasing multiple poems by each poet so that I can really get a feel for how/what he or she writes. It also says, your work is important not just we like this one poem! Not that the one-poem acceptance isn't exciting, but allowing more space for a smaller amount of writers asks me to stay with one particular artist for a while, which can be refreshing/exciting/challenging when the norm is to jump from writer to writer in a lit mag. This is why I was really excited to see Blood Lotus's new format: it asks you to nestle down, get comfortable with a writer and his or her work for a couple of weeks.

I have to say that I am always ready to nestle down with CA Conrad's The Book of Frank and the aforementioned not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them by Jenny Boully. They are books to devour, always so delicious. Currently though, my husband and I are making our way through H.P. Lovecraft's short story collection--romantic I know--so my head has been rampant with thoughts of Cthulhu and 6-foot albino penguins.

BL: What real life challenges do you face as a writer in terms of making time to write? How do you fit it in, or deal with not being able to fit it in? Any advice?

SHM: I've tried all sorts of different writing schedules and techniques. Mimic a different poem or style every day. Write 500 words per day, with the threat of paying $20 to a friend every day I missed. Only write when the spirit moves you. I've quickly discovered I'm not a very good marathon writer--I still admire my brilliant fiction-writing friend who can sit in coffee shops all day long and actually get writing done. I've also discovered that while the first few moments of waking up and getting out of bed are excruciating, I am a morning writer. If I want to get something written, it's got to be before work and out of my house. If I am not out of my house when I write, I will find something to clean. Which is strange, but true. I also like to think of writing as working: I have to get up early to get my own work done. It's a psychological thing--but calling writing work makes it "sound" more important to me, and just that little detail motivates me to haul ass down to the bus stop to catch the early bus, so I can sit for at the very least an hour and write something. If I had any advice, it's simply to try a bunch of things--write at different times of the day, keep a journal, don't, write for an hour, write 500 words, don't write for a day--just to see what proves most lucrative. Then do whatever you feel like doing because if writing is important to you, you'll find/make time.
Check out other work by Sarah online at Connotation Press, The Smoking Poet, and Blue Stem Magazine.

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